Written by @kristenshylin_
Did you know that until last month, all disciplinary records of NYPD officers were kept hidden from the public under the New York state law’s order?
All officers’ disciplinary records, including civilians’ complaints and investigators’ conclusions, were kept a secret. In fact, when investigators spoke up about their findings, they were terminated.
The city investigator who revealed the record of former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner in 2014, was forced out of office in 2017. On the other hand, the officer who choked the unarmed civilian to death was not fired until 2019.
The tragic police killing of George Floyd influenced civil rights and social justice activists to resume their mission to repeal statue 50-a, which lawfully covers up the officer’s disciplinary records.
State lawmakers voted to repeal the provision, but federal Judge Katherine Polk Failla issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the release of records after police unions sued the city. On Wednesday, Failla barred the New York Civil Liberties Union from disclosing the department’s discipline records, CBS 6 reported.
Despite the judge’s order, on Sunday, ProPublica released the database obtained by New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.
” Today, we are making this information public and, with it, providing an unprecedented picture of civilians’ complaints of abuse by NYPD officers as well as the limits of the current system that is supposed to hold officers accountable,” the company’s editor Eric Umansky wrote.
ProPublica, who is not a part of the existing lawsuit, released the database, which revealed 4,000 officers out of 36,000 had at least one allegation against them proved by CCRB.
The published records show that 303 active-duty officers have had five or more confirmed allegations against them.
Furthermore, the data listed about 5,000 complaints of “physical force,” about 2,000 of “frisk,” and at least 600 of “gun pointed.”
ProPublica’s editor in chief Stephen Engelberg said that the database gives the people of New York City a glimpse of how authorities have handled police misconduct claims.
” We understand the arguments against releasing this data. But we believe the public good it could do outweighs the potential harm,” Engelberg said.
Unions for city police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers, who sued the city to prevent the disclosure of the disciplinary records, said they are defending the privacy and reputations of “hard-working public safety employees.”
” This is not a challenge to the public right to know. This is not about transparency. We are defending privacy, integrity, and the unsullied reputations of thousands of hard-working public safety employees,” union spokesman Han Sheinkopf said.